Everton fell at the quarter-final stage of the Carabao Cup as a stirring second-half comeback was rendered fruitless in heartbreaking fashion by defeat to Leicester City on penalties.
The Blues were trailing 2-0 with 20 minutes to go when Tom Davies volleyed home to make it 2-1 and the spirit shown by Duncan Ferguson's men in the closing stages was rewarded in stoppage time when Leighton Baines rifled home an unstoppable shot to force the deciding shootout.
Jordan Pickford appeared to have given Everton the perfect platform when he saved James Maddison's opening spot-kick but misses from 12 yards by Cenk Tosun and Baines put the hosts behind the eight ball and the Foxes were able to see out the win by a 4-2 scoreline.
Everton had started the match brightly but their performance soon became ragged and wracked, perhaps, by fatigue from what was their fourth intense game in the space of two weeks with some players involved in all of them due to the threadbare nature of an injury-ravaged squad.
Richarlison almost profited from a mistake by Kasper Schmeichel whose low clearance pinged off Alex Iwobi and into the Brazilian's path but he couldn't take it past the goalkeeper and ended up prodding the ball wide.
At the other end, meanwhile, Ayoze Perez cracked an effort narrowly over the crossbar from 20 yards before Ricardo Pereira made progress down the Leicester right and picked Maddison out all too easily in the middle and he fired past Pickford to give the visitors a 25th-minute lead.
It was 2-0 just a couple of minutes later after Leicester won a corner off Iwobi. Jamie Vardy flicked on the resulting delivery at the near post and Jonny Evans was on hand at the back stick to convert from close range.
Everton had a great chance to halve the deficit when Bernard chipped a beautiful free kick over the Leicester defence for Yerry Mina but the Colombian could only steer a tame header into Schmeichel's arms. Richarlison then flashed a shot across goal from a smartly-taken quick free kick by Mason Holgate.
Pickford had to be alert to make an excellent one-handed save to deny Perez from distance early in the second half and then later denied Dennis Praet in impressive fashion but in between it was the Toffees who really should have scored through Mina.
Moise Kean, on as a half-time replacement for Bernard, saw a shot deflected behind and from the resulting corner, Baines swung a wicked ball into the six-yard box where Mina just had to make contact to score but it fizzed agonisingly by him.
A mistake by Seamus Coleman almost put the game beyond Everton as Vardy back-heeled the loose ball to Mark Albrighton but his curling shot bounced back off the crossbar.
Coleman partially atoned for the error shortly afterwards, however, when he was involved in the move that led to the Blues' first goal. The ball was eventually worked to Richarlison whose early cross was met with a lovely, controlled finish by Davies past the keeper from around 10 yards out.
With the home crowd now fully behind them, Everton pressed and Kean served a chance up for Dominic Calvert-Lewin but his header flew over. Iwobi and Richarlison made way within eight minutes of each other as Tosun and young debutant Anthony Gordon joined the fray but it all looked to be in vain as the match ticked into time added on.
Baines had one more trick up his sleeve, however, and when Tosun played the ball into space in front of him, the left-back had time and space to advance and then set his sights before unloading a missile into the top corner of Schmeichel's goal from 25 yards.
Sadly, the momentum shift did not carry through the shootout that followed a few minutes later. Pickford did well to guess right when facing his England team-mate Maddison and beat his shot away but two poorly-struck penalties from Tosun and Baines, both easily stopped by Schmeichel, put the Blues into arrears and Leicester remained perfect through their four remaining kicks.
It was another sad and almost cruelly inevitable end for Everton in a competition they appear destined never to win and in a season where fortune has largely deserted them.
Ferguson and his players will rightly take heart and credit, however, for picking themselves off the mat and fighting their way back into a contest that looked well beyond them at the end of what had been a hugely disappointing first half.
They demonstrated the fight, passion and determination that will stand them in good stead and provide building blocks for what looks likely to be the Carlo Ancelotti era at Goodison Park.
Everton hosted Leicester City in a dramatic Carabao Cup quarter-finals that saw the Blues fightback from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game in the last minute through a brilliant strike from Leighton Baines. But it was a tepid spot-kick that from him that set Everton back in the penalty shoot-out after Pickford had superbly saved the first from Maddison only to see Vardy score the winning penalty, a cruel ending for Blues everywhere, no more than Duncan Ferguson.
The Scot had described Gylfi Sigurðsson's chances of making the game as touch and go because of the illness which kept him out of the trip to Old Trafford and the same bug makes Djibril Sidibè a doubt as well. Neither were named in tonight's squad.
Lucas Digne is ruled out with a groin problem as is Fabian Delph who continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott are also sidelined because of injuries of their own.
Those selection problems restrict Ferguson's options and lead to the continued partnership of Tom Davies and Mason Holgate in the centre of midfield￼, with Baines the only change from Sunday's starting line-up at Old Trafford on Sunday.
From the Under-23s, Dennis Adeniran and Anthony Gordon are on the bench, along with Cuco Martina and Oumar Niasse. Moise Kean is also named despite the 'sub-of-a sub' ignominy he suffered on Sunday.
Leicester, meanwhile, make three changes as Wes Morgan, Ayoze Perez and Marc Albrighton all start, with that man Jamie Vardy leading the line, and Iheanacho on the bench.
Everton kicked off playing towards the Gwladys Street goal and won an early corner that Calvert-Lewin clipped awkwardly behind, well off target. The Foxes attack was ore coherent but Pickford out quickly to claim a dangerous cross. At the other end, a clearance hit Iwobi but Richarlison could not profit from the confusion caused.
After a bright start, the pace slackened off and the game became a little scrappy in midfield. Calvert-Lewin bumped into Maddison, giving away a free-kick that was defended away, allowing Everton to build until Calvert-Lewin lost the ball. But Calvert-Lewin closed down Wes Morgan, forcing a throw-in, much to the crowd's delight. But Richarliosn's ball forward was too much for Iwobi to chase down the right channel.
Leicester were playing it around, pretty slow, looking to penetrate a disciplined and well-shaped Everton defensive formation holding them at bay until Vardy forced a corner with a barge in the back on Keane. From the subsequent phase, Ricardo got down the line and pulled a great ball back for Vardy to dummy and Perez to lash over the Everton bar.
Calvert-Lewin won a long aerial forward pass but Iwobi made nothing of the flick-on. Baines tried but failed to find Richarlison, then a couple of challenges, Holgate penalized for a trip on Ricardo Pereira Bernard went down with a loud yelp after kicking Perez's leg on the follow through with his clearance. Bernard soon recovered.
The visitors continued to control the game, Yerry Mina making a complete hash of clearance and giving away a corner. Everton defended it but could not retain possession and were still playing second fiddle to the 2nd-place team in the Premier League, the chance finally coming and clinically taken by Maddison with a very accurate strike from the edge of the area. It had clearly been coming.
The Blues had allowed The Foxes to increasingly control every aspect of the game, and the crowd sensed that a total change of energy levels is what was required to turnaround the game. But a corner was lashed in, flicked on by Vardy at the near post and it was 2-0 from Johnny Evans.
Everton responded, winning a vital corner... but could they make it count? Put in well by Baines but easily cleared. Everton then had to defend but it all looked very nervous now whenever the speedy Leicester players advanced. Everton tried to build but it was slow and Iwobi again gave the ball away, followed by three other Everton players... but rescued by a free-kick given against Evans.
Bernard clipped it over them all to Yerry Mina with a glorious chance but his soft header was easy pickings for Schmeichel, nowhere near enough power. Another free-kick, quickly taken and through to Richarlison who tried to score from an impossible angle, But at least the Blues were now competing.
Pickford, once renowned for impeccable distribution, welled a clearance over everyone, straight back to Schmeichel and visitors attacked again, Maddison searching for a third but being blocked. Everton attacked but Bernard's tricky saw nothing but a goalkick as reward.
Davies dispossessed Perez but the play was scrappy and Everton were really struggling to get any say in the play. Mina strangely stooped to ground level to head a ball directly to an attacker. Eventually, he gave away another corner, Pickford this time coming out to claim it. Iwobi and Bernard were both having difficult games but would Ferguson take the drastic action needed at half-time?
Kean on for Bernard after the break, and good play almost set him up for a strike but he was crowded out. But Leicester were too canny to be sucked in and still attacked with ease, Perez lashing a ferocious strike that Pickford palmed behind acrobatically. The Blues defended the corner but nonsense play at the back almost let Vardy in.
Better play around the Foxes area was met by stouter defending, Kean called for a high boot as the ball came in to him from Davies. Calvert-Lewin did very well to keep an attack gong and feeding Kean, his shot deflected behind for a corner, swung in absolutely superbly by Baines, but curling too much for Mina, chance missed.
Richarlison gave away the ball and the Foxes scampered forward, Praet's shot kicked away in desperation by Pickford. Everton attacked again but Holgate was tempted into an early strike, distant and well wide.
Everton were huffing and puffing but the quality of play in attack would need to be of much higher quality to bite back at the Foxes, who came perilously close with a rapid attack that saw Albrighton beat Pickford with a tremendous shot that smacked off the Everton bar.
Iwobi was having a nightmare but it was Brendan Rogers who made the next change, Prez off for Gray with just over 20 minutes left, and Everton not really looking like scoring. But a fine move out of nothing saw the ball whipped in to Davies who fired an amazing first-time volley that flashed past Schmeichel and into the net.
But Leicester weren't done, Maddison and Vardy threatening to score but blocked away. At the other end, Kean crossed the ball in to Calvert-Lewin who got up but ducked his head at the crucial moment, sending the ball over the bar.
The pace of the game was now frenetic, with Everton much more threatening in attack, but Kean still struggling to eat his man. Ferguson finally swapped Iwobi for Tosun with time relentlessly running down.
Maddison got free and fired fractional wide. Gordon came on but the Foxes defenders were too clever for his trickery, despite him winning a corner. But into stoppage time and who else byt Leighton Baines scored to rescure the toie, with a great snapshot that was rockted into the top corner, an absolutely brilliant goal!
The 4 minutes of added time were nothing if not frenetic, and Everton won a drammtic corner in the 4th and final minute. Baines the genius to curl it in but headed on by a defender, for a Foxes attack that saw Vardy free but flagged ofside. What a finish to the playing time, and it was now down to penalties. Fabulous stuff from the Blues and Duncan Ferguson.
Maddison: Saved! 0-0
Tosun: Saved! 0-0
Chilwell: Scored. 0-1
Baines: Saved! 0-1 (a really feeble effort from Baines)
Pereria: Scored. 0-2
Holgate: Scored. 1-2
Gray: Scored. 1-3
Calvert-Lewin: Scored. 2-3
Vardy: Scored 2-4.
Leicester win in the end, after the hero Baines really messed up from the spot, what a massive massive anti-climax for the devasted Blues.
Scorers: Davies (70'), Baines (90+1'); Maddison (26'), Evans (29').
Kick-off: 7:45pm, Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Baines, Iwobi (78' Tosun), Holgate, Davies, Bernard (46' Kean), Richarlison (84' Gordon), Calvert-Lewin.
Subs: Stekelenburg, Niasse, Martina, Adeniran.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Morgan, Evans, Chilwell, Ndidi, Praet (86' Choudhury), Maddison, Perez (69' Gray), Albrighton (81' Söyüncü), Vardy.
Subs: Ward, Justin, Barnes, Iheanacho.
Referee: Jon Moss
Just so... EvertonIt was already pretty dark as I left work at about 4:15 pm. I picked up Dan, Alfie and Ste on the way, and hit a fair amount of traffic around Birkenhead. Nevertheless, we parked up and were in the pub at around 5:15 pm. We sat down with a cold one in front of the TV only to find Liverpool were about to kick off against Monterrey in the World Club Championship. Just what we needed!
I make a point of practically never watching Liverpool as it’s no good for my blood pressure but to be fair the game was an entertaining one and passed the time quite nicely as we feasted on free hot dogs in the boozer. Monterrey caused Liverpool no end of problems and it was only in the closing stages when their legs had gone that Liverpool sneaked a winner. That will sound familiar no doubt.
Onto ourselves and it was no surprise that, other than Leighton Baines in for the injured Lucas Digne, the team lined up the same as against Manchester United on Sunday. None of the injured players were able to recover in time and our depleted ranks were tasked with taking us into the semi-final of the Carabao Cup. Alas, we faltered.
I was a little surprised to see Leicester City putting their best foot forward in this one given they play Manchester City on Saturday, as they named a strong team. Walking through the Gwladys Street concourse was pretty noisy with the crowd expectant. The teams took to the field, Everton losing the toss and attacking the Gwladys Street in the first half.
We had a fairly bright first 10 minutes when Richarlison nearly got in a couple of times, but Leicester City soon got a grip of the game and showed why they are 2nd in the Premier League. They did a good job of killing the pace of the game yet keeping the ball moving. This quietened our supporters somewhat as Everton struggled to match Leicester City’s rhythm.
The Foxes had already let us ff the hook once when Ayoze Perez skied over the bar when well placed. Leicester City continued to knock on the door however and it was of no surprise to anyone when James Maddison waltzed through and placed the ball easily past Jordan Pickford to give the visitors an advantage.
This was soon doubled only 3 minutes later when Jonny Evans stabbed home from close range following a corner kick. We conceded two quick goals too easily and had really struggled to get any foothold in the game by this point. For a few minutes at least, the boys tried to press Leicester City back and force a response, and had Yerry Mina (I really wish he would just for once score one of these headers by the way) placed his free header better we could have gone in at half time at 1-2.
The sight of Moise Kean warming up at half-time was welcomed by all as Duncan removed Bernard, presumably with some sort of niggle as he wasn’t doing too badly, to bring on the Italian. Despite a good effort from most of our jaded players, the goal never really looked like coming. Being two goals to the good, Leicester City were more than happy to sit back and hit us on the break. So while Tom Davies and Alex Iwobi et al tried to make a play, they were met with snarling Foxes scrapping away and making life difficult for them.
As we had to gamble, Leicester City got in a few times and in all fairness, had they have been more clinical we could have found ourselves 0-3 and totally out of the cup. Marc Albrighton hit the crossbar with a great curling effort, and Jordan Pickford had to make two fine saves to thwart Ayoze Perez and Dennis Praet and keep the Foxes at bay.
To their credit, the lads kept plugging away and on 70 minutes Richarlison’s cross was well swatted home by Tom Davies to give Everton hope.
It’s funny how goals change games as, despite a good effort from Everton, Leicester City had looked well in control by this point. The goal swung the momentum wildly and with Cenk Tosun sent on to help out Moise Kean up-front, Leicester City added Caglar Soyuncu to help bolster the defence.
Everton huffed and puffed and as the clock ticked into stoppage time and you began to feel all hope was lost, up stepped Leighton Baines who majestically drove at goal from 25 yards, beautifully finding the top corner to bring us level. It was noticeable that Leighton was wanting to get back quick to restart as you felt Everton might still have had time to build more momentum in the remaining time, but his team mates mobbed him and we couldn’t force a quick restart.
I somehow never fancied us on penalties but, when we got a corner kick at the very death I did fancy us, and really felt the roof was to be blown off Goodison Park when the ball hit the net. This never happened, of course, and on to penalties we went.
The shoot-out took place in front of the Park End with Leicester City presumably winning the toss and opting to shoot first. Jordan Pickford brilliantly saved James Maddison’s spot-kick and you dared to dream for a moment. Cenk Tosun then ran up quickly and confidently. Maybe he was put off by Kasper Schmeichael’s nobheadness (I think referees should really be looking to clamp down on that sort of behaviour, by the way, as it's really against the spirit of the game for me, but that’s for another day), as his direction-less penalty was easily saved by Kasper. I feel this was key because, had Cenk have scored, it would have switched the pressure on the penalty taker, putting Leicester City on the back foot somewhat.
As it was, Leighton Baines, uncharacteristically, also struck poorly from the spot and that was effectively it. It was a shame for Leighton as this rendered his wonder strike effectively worthless. Though Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin fared better with their spot-kicks, so too did Leicester City’s players, and Jamie Vardy finished the job for the visitors.
On balance, the better team won; however, you can’t help but feel that frustration of another cup that has got away from us and, for the second year running in the Carabao Cup, we have bowed out on penalties. Though second best for most of the game, I was proud of the effort of some of the lads, particularly Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Mason Holgate and Tom Davies.
We really are down to the bare bones of our squad and Duncan hasn’t had the luxury of freshening things up. I think that if you take the best players out of the midfield of most other teams in the league they would similarly struggle, so it is with credit to Duncan than we have competed well these last three games.
All eyes on our Board then. Though Carlo Ancelotti seems to become a more real proposition by the day, and certainly one well worth getting excited about, until it actually happens I somehow expect it won’t happen. It’ll be an interesting couple of days between now and Arsenal. Let’s hope for a few more players available, and confirmation on Carlo before then.
Pickford: I don’t think he could have done much with the goals. Otherwise he made some very good saves in the second half and it’s a shame for Jordan that his penalty save counted for nothing. 8
Baines: What a class act. A great professional and we best come good at Anfield next month because it’s criminal to think that, like Phil Jagielka before him, he will finish his Everton career with no medals to show for it. A phenomenal strike and a great performance. No blame from me for his botched penalty. He’s well in credit with penalties scored for us, and it was his wonder goal that gave us a chance with the penalties. Well done, Leighton. 8
Mina: Poor. Very poor in fact. Timid when he should be dominant and some of his distribution and clearances were so brain-dead. I really don’t know what he was playing at. 3
Keane: Showed a few good moments but got caught out a bit too often for me. 5
Coleman: Seamus was outstanding and seemed to have a determination about him to not give this one up. I’m convinced this drove some of the others on and he didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. Unlucky Seamus. My man of the match. 8
Holgate: As a centre back playing in holding midfield, not everything is going to work and he made a few bad decisions. However, he covered so much ground, was sharp in the tackle and didn’t take it lying down. A great effort from Mason. Great penalty though! 7
Davies: Not everything he did worked, but he took responsibility and the players kept looking for him as he was perhaps the only one in midfield with any nouse for finding a forward pass. He took his goal well and will be gutted to lose this one, I imagine. Well played, Tom. 7
Bernard: I thought he had a reasonably good first half but he didn’t come back out for the second. 6
Iwobi: A bit like Yerry, he doesn’t think enough for me and often gives the ball away or makes the wrong decision when it seems easier to do the opposite. Poor in my opinion, both on the wing and in No 10. 4
Richarlison: Kept on going and it was a bit of a surprise he was substituted but maybe he was a bit spent. Good cross for Tom’s goal. 6
Calvert-Lewin: Kept on plugging away, albeit without much reward. 6
Kean (for Bernard): Not bad in flashes but didn’t show enough for me to suggest he should be in the team. I guess we have to hope that Carlo can get the best out of him, assuming he joins us of course. 5
Tosun (for Iwobi): Full of running but hardly saw the ball. He will be devastated about missing the penalty, especially given what limited time he gets on the field. 5
Gordon (for Richarlison): Even though I’ve only seen a few clips of Anthony banging in a few screamers for the Under-23s, I was pleading for his introduction in place of Alex Iwobi when the game was at 0-2. Credit to Duncan I suppose for sticking with what he had, as it might not have worked out doing it my way; I just felt something different, with the way the game was going, couldn’t have hurt. Anyhow, Anthony got involved and had a productive 10 minutes on the field. It’s a shame his evening was soured by the penalty shoot-out loss. 6
Everton host Leicester City this evening with a place in the Carabao Cup semi-finals on the line in what could, if reports are true, be Duncan Ferguson's last match in temporary charge.
Speculation remains rife that Carlo Ancelotti will be announced as the club's next permanent manager later this week and that he could be in the dugout when Everton kick off against Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday￼.
Having overseen a stunning 3-1 victory over Chelsea and a hugely creditable draw at Manchester United at the weekend, however, Ferguson would be the supporters' overwhelming choice to lead the team for what is arguably the biggest match of the season so far.
￼A victory over the high-flying Foxes would put the Blues into the last four of a competition that they have never won and which lost another of the so-called “big six” last night when Aston Villa thrashed Liverpool's youngsters 5-0 at Villa Park￼.
That should ensure another boisterous atmosphere at Goodison Park and Ferguson will no doubt need the help of the 12th man as he deals with Everton's continuing injury crisis, particularly in midfield.
The Scot has described Gylfi Sigurðsson's chances of making the game as touch and go because of the illness which kept him out of the trip to Old Trafford and the same bug makes Djibril Sidibè a doubt as well￼.
Lucas Digne is ruled out with a groin problem as is Fabian Delph who continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott are also sidelined because of injuries of their own.
￼Those selection problems could restrict Ferguson's options and lead to the continued partnership of Tom Davies and Mason Holgate in the centre of midfield￼.
The rest of the side will, in all likelihood, remain unchanged from the one that started against Man Utd.￼
This will be only the third time that these two teams have met in cup competition. The first was a Zenith Data Systems cup tie at Filbert Street in 1991 and the last meeting was in January 2017 when Ronald Koeman's Everton lost at home to the reigning Premier League champions — the score was 2-1 on both occasions.
With Leicester riding high in second place in the league, it's possible that Brendan Rodgers could make changes to his usual starting XI as he did in the last round against Burton Albion. That evening, Hamza Choudhury, Dennis Praet, Wes Morgan and Kelechi Iheanacho were four of nine changes to the Foxes side that had walloped Southampton 9-0 a few days earlier.
The strength of opposition posed by the Blues and the fact that it is a quarter-final might ordinarily prompt Rodgers to be less experimental but he will also have one eye on Saturday's huge clash with third-place Manchester City.
Should he go with a full strength side, it will be a big test for Everton but by no means an impossible one, as the Blues demonstrated at the King Power Stadium three weeks ago when an injury-time goal was needed to hand Leicester a cruel victory on the day￼.
Kick-off: 7:45pm, Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Last Time: Everton 1 - 2 Leicester City (FA Cup, January 2017)
Predicted Lineup: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Baines, Davies, Holgate, Bernard, Iwobi, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin